During its annual conference and tradeshow, COMPOST2024, held in Daytona Beach, the US Composting Council (USCC) recognized several different organizations and introduced new award categories at its awards ceremony.
The ceremony opened with three service awards: the President’s Award and the two Board Service Awards. The Board Service Awards went to Eileen Banyra of the Community Compost Company and Melisa Tashjian of Compost Crusaders. Eileen Banyra was recognized for her six years of service on the USCC Board of Directors and as chair of the Nominations Committee, helping develop new USCC Committee guidelines and being instrumental in updating the USCC by-laws, policy, and procedure. Melisa was recognized for her valuable input into the Target Organics Program during her board tenure.
The President’s Award—recognizing the USCC’s past presidents—went to Pierce Louis of Dirt Hugger. Pierce has been on the USCC Board of Directors since 2018 and has served on the Executive Committee as Vice President and President.
The 2024 USCC Achievement Awards introduced four new categories:
- Top Learner Award
- State Chapter Rookie of the Year Award
- State Chapter of the Year Excellence Award
- Committee of the Year Award
The Top Learner Award goes to an individual enrolled in Compost University who has earned the most Continuing Education Credits during the year. The inaugural Top Learner Award went to Matt Biegler of Southeast Soils, a branch of CompostUSA.
The State Chapter Rookie of the Year Award is eligible amongst state chapters who have formed in the past five years, with the chapters competing amongst each other by formulating a pitch and answering questions designed by the Chapter Advisory Committee. The inaugural State Chapter Rookie of the Year Award went to the Florida Composting Council.
The State Chapter of the Year Excellence Award goes to the state chapter that has demonstrated excellence and has met the criteria designed by the USCC’s Chapter Committee and Nominations Committee. The inaugural State Chapter of the Year Excellence Award went to the North Carolina Composting Council (NCCC). The NCCC started in 1992 as the North Carolina Composting & Organics Recycling Council, eventually becoming the NCCC in 2007 as the first state chapter of the USCC.
The USCC Committee of the Year Award goes to the USCC Committee who has demonstrated excellence in the past year by meeting or exceeding its work plan goals. The inaugural Committee of the Year Award goes to the Market Development Committee for its efforts in rebranding the Seal of Testing Assurance Program and marketing the program.
The Rufus Chaney Award for displaying excellence in the area of compost research went to Robert Rynk of the State University of New York, Cobleskill. Robert Rynk has made numerous contributions in the field of composting through educational research and outreach, writing for several publications, hosting lectures, and authoring The Composting Handbook.
The Organics Diversion Program of the Year Award, given to a public/private program that has successfully promoted and enabled organics diversion to composting or vermi-composting through education and public outreach, went to Prince George’s County in Maryland. Prince George’s County was recognized for expanding its free curbside composting program PGC Composts, which has expanded its program from approximately 200 households in 2017 to over 104,000 households by the end of 2023.
The Compost Manufacturer of the Year Award for small-scale facilities that manage less than 10,000 tons of material per year went to CompostNow for their Georgia facility. Opening in 2017, the Georgia facility has been a trailblazer for the composting industry in the state, creating permitting and zoning models for compost facilities and increasing access for small and medium-scale facilities to open in the future. CompostNow also worked with Georgia stakeholders on the USCC’s Petitioning Committee to start the USCC’s Georgia state chapter and has used the compost facility to host tours for elected officials, school groups, local organizations, and businesses.
The Compost Manufacturer of the Year Award for large-scale facilities that manage more than 10,000 tons of material per year went to The City of Raleigh, NC Composting Facility. Having recently expanded from eight acres of pad area to 45 acres, the composting facility currently processes 50,000 tons of yard trimmings into several products and successfully markets them, registering their products with the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. They’ve also sponsored various landscape and landscape architect educational training events in North Carolina.
The awards ceremony concluded with the Jerome Goldstein Lifetime Achievement Award, which recognizes an individual who has achieved excellence in their field and who has made significant contributions over their professional career to the field of environmental stewardship and natural resource sustainability. The 2024 Achievement Award went to Ron Alexander of R. Alexander Associates, Inc. For over 40 years, Ron has dedicated his career to compost use and compost product marketing, making significant contributions to the fields of compost specifications, phosphorous management, landscape architecture, and environmental remediation. Ron is also a past board member of the USCC and served as Vice President and Secretary, and he is currently on the USCC Market Development Committee.
Awardees are nominated by peers and honored each year at the US Composting Council’s Annual Conference and Tradeshow. The USCC is proud of the outstanding efforts of this year’s group of distinguished awardees and members.